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Central European Countries

Geography, Economy and Population Issues

 

The Central Europe (CE) countries vary in total population from around 2 million in Slovenia (SI), 5 million in Slovakia (SK), and 10 million in Hungary (HU) and in the Czech Republic (CZ). Out of these four countries, three are landlocked while Slovenia has 46.6 km of coastline on the Adriatic Sea. While Slovenia is mountainous with small watercourses, the other three countries include medium and large plains with large rivers, being very vulnerable to flooding (Hungary is vulnerable to droughts as well). The most abundant natural resources common to all four countries include coal and natural gas, as well as a range of mostly non precious metals. Slovenia is in addition rich with hydropower and forests, while the other three countries with arable land.

 

Table 1. Economical and population datai

Czech Republic

Hungary

Slovakia

Slovenia

GDP $ billion

192.2

129

87.45

47.85

Growth rate %

2.3

1.2

4

1.2

GDP per capita $ (PPP)

25,600

18,800

22,000

28,200

Total surface sq km

78,867

93,028

49,035

20,273

Total population

10,190,213

9,976,062

5,477,038

2,000,092

Population growth rate %

-0.12

-0.17

0.117

0.163

Population in the capital

1,162,000

1,705,000

428,000

260,000

Urban population %

74

68

55

50

Rate of urbanization %

0.3

0.3

0.1

0.2

Unemployment %

9

11.2

12.5

10.7

In all four CE countries, the services sector produces around 60% of GDP, the industry sector between 30-40%, while agriculture produces less than 10% of the GDP. GDP per capita (at purchasing power parity) ranges from 18,800 $ in Hungary to 28,200 $ in Slovenia, while the unemployment ranges from 9% in the Czech Republic to 13.5% in Slovakia (see table 1).

 

i Source: CIA the World Factbook

 

Climate Issues

 

Table 2. Mean annual temperature and precipitationii

CZ HU SK SI
Mean annual temperature °C

7.8

11.1

8.7

8.8

Mean annual rainfall mm/yr

508

605

630

1600

The climate of the countries above can be described as typical European continental influenced climate with warm, dry summers and fairly cold winters (see table 2). In Slovenia the coastal areas and the lowlands in the south have a Mediterranean influenced climate, with more precipitation on annual base and milder temperature at the seaside. Meteorological data recently show some warming tendency at most of the observation sites (the maximum temperatures have been increasing, summer heat-waves). Change in precipitation patterns is not so obvious, but it needs to be considered that the frequency of heavy rainfalls seems to be increasing.Regional climate models projecting future climate for IPCC GHGiii emission scenarios show that further temperature increase of 1 to 4 °C can be expected in the first half of the 21st century, and change in precipitation (in Slovenia -20 % to + 20 %, in Slovakia -10 % to + 5.6%, in Czech Republic and in Hungary 0 % to – 10%) compared to the average figures for 1961 to 1990 is likely. The seasonal mean discharges for river basins will be increasing only in winter, but decreasing in all other seasons for most of the catchment areas. Summers will be warmer and drier; winters will be also warmer with similar quantity of precipitation and higher frequency of weather events including floods.

 

ii Sources:

http://www.climatetemp.info; http://www.stat.si/eng/novica_prikazi.aspx?id=3939

http://unfccc.int

iiiIPPC GHG - Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change greenhouse gas

 

Water

 

The most important rivers in the CE countries are the Danube River and its tributaries. Hungary is located directly within the heart of the Danube Basin, with another important river being Tisza River. Lake Balaton in Hungary is among the important lakes of the CE countries and also the largest freshwater lake in Central Europe. In Slovakia the Danube and its tributaries (Váh, Hron, Bodrog, Hornád) drain 96% of the territory to the Black Sea, while the remaining part is drained by the Vistula River tributaries to the Baltic Sea. Žitný ostrov is the largest natural groundwater source in Central Europe. Through Slovenia, two Danube tributaries, the Sava and the Drava are flowing. The country is divided into two catchment areas by the Adriatic Sea- Black Sea watershed. In the Czech Republic the Elbe River drains the land towards the North Sea, the Oder River drains the territory towards the Baltic Sea. The Morava River drains 28% of the country to the Danube. The dependency ratio, which expresses the percent of total renewable water resources originating outside of a country, in Hungary is 94,23%, in Slovakia 74,85% and in Slovenia 41,42% (see table 3). Czech Republic doest not receive any water from neighboring countries, so as a consequence has an absolute dependence on atmospheric rainfall.

Table 3. Water related statistical data, 2009iv

Czech Republic

Hungary

Slovakia

Slovenia

Dependency ratio (%)

0*

94,23

74,85*

41,42*

Water resources: total renewable (natural) (109 m3/year)

13,15*

104

50,1*

31,87*

Total water withdrawal (109 m3/year)

1,6991

5,591

0,6881

0,942

Total water withdrawal per capita (m3/inhab/year)

164,71

556,61

126,71

465,4

Fresh surface water withdrawal (primary and secondary) (109 m3/year)

1,572

:

0,331

0,753

Fresh groundwater withdrawal (primary and secondary) (109 m3/year)

0,376

:

0,3581

0,19

Agricultural water withdrawal as % of total water withdrawal (%)

1,7661

5,5811

3,1981

0,2123

Industrial water withdrawal as % of total water withdrawal (%)

56,51

82,491

50,291

82,27

Municipal water withdrawal as % of total withdrawal (%)

41,731

11,931

46,511

17,52

*FAO estimate. : No data. 1 No data for 2009, 2007 data instead. 2 No data for 2009, 2005 data instead

 

Integrated water resources management (IWRM) and policy legislatives are part of managing the competing demands between different sectors in all CE countries. All four countries are facing more or less pollution problems due to agriculture, industry and insufficient water treatment.

 

iii Source:
http://www.fao.org/nr/water/aquastat/data/query/index.html?lang=en

 

References:
www.fao.org
www.fao.org/nr/water/aquastat/main/index.stm
www.un.org/esa/agenda21, http://www.icpdr.org/icpdr-pages/
www.vuvh.sk/download/VaV/Vystupy/Letak-EN_web.pdf
www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/

This project is cofinanced by the ERDF and made possible by the INTERREG IVC programme

 

The Interregional Cooperation Programme INTERREG IVC, financed by the European Union’s Regional Development Fund, helps Regions of Europe work together to share experience and good practice in the areas of innovation, the knowledge economy, the environment and risk prevention. EUR 302 million is available for project funding but, more than that, a wealth of knowledge and potential solutions are also on hand for regional policy-makers.

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